Make Miniature Winter Trees from Paper Snowflakes

  • 01 of 10

    Winter Trees for Miniature Scenes Made From Simple Cut Paper Snowflakes

    Snowflake trees in a miniature Christmas village
    These miniature winter trees made from stacks of paper snowflakes are a great addition to a Christmas village or winter table setting. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    The miniature winter trees shown here are made from layers of simple cut paper snowflakes. These are an easy school or club project for children, provided you help line up the sizes of squares needed for each tree, and use lightweight paper which cuts easily in many layers. This is a great study in geometry! You can make the snowflakes to the simple twelve branched design shown in these instrucions or assemble them from snowflakes cut to your own designs.

    Materials Used to Make Paper Snowflake...MORE Trees

    Materials are inexpensive and easy to find, lightweight printer paper (20 lb works well), sharp scissors and pva glue or a glue stick.

    The design is so simple the snowflakes can easily be adapted to fancier materials. Try using flocked paper, glittered wrapping paper or recycled newspaper to create your own style.

    The trick in making these trees is to use paper which folds well. I used 20 lb paper as it was easier to cut through multiple folds, than even slightly heavier 24 lb paper. Depending on the size of the tree you want to make, you will need two to three sheets of letter sized paper for each tree.

    As well as the paper for the tree branches, you can modify the trees by changing the paper you use for the tree trunks. I used white paper for one of the trees in this scene, and brown kraft paper recycled from a grocery bag for the brown trunks. I like the trees both ways!

    Paper Tips for Miniature Projects

    If you like these paper trees, you may also like to make the Scherensnitte Style Cut Paper Trees.

    If you want very realistic evergreen trees, you may prefer to make miniature trees from preserved lycopodium moss. Combined with tiny pine or fir cones made from paper, these can be used for railroad scenes dollhouses or Christmas villages.

    The next step in this tutorial shows you how to measure the paper for the height of tree trunk you need.

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  • 02 of 10

    Measure and Cut the Paper for a Snowflake Tree Trunk

    Kraft paper triangle cut to make the trunk of a miniature snowflake tree for a village scene.
    Cut a paper triangle the height you want for the trunk of a miniature snowflake tree. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To make the trunk for a miniature snowflake tree you want to cut a triangle of fairly stiff paper. I used pieces of recycled brown kraft paper from a grocery bag, but printer weight paper will work as well.

    Set the Height of Your Snowflake Tree

    The height of the snowflake tree is determined by the tallest side of a right angle triangle you cut from the paper. Paper snowflakes will be set along the trunk every 1/2 to 1 inch (1 - 2 cm). The taper of the tree trunk will be determined by the bottom...MORE edge of the triangle. The longer a triangle base you cut, the wider your tree trunk will be at the base. If you are going to make a range of trees for a village scene, vary the height and width of the tree trunks to make a more interesting "forest" or grove.

    The next step shows how to fix the trunk for your miniature snowflake tree.

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  • 03 of 10

    Roll and Glue the Trunk for a Snowflake Tree

    A paper trunk is rolled from kraft papper for a miniature snowflake tree.
    The paper triangle is rolled from the tallest side to the low point to make a tapered cone for the trunk of a miniature snowflake tree. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To assemble the paper tree trunk for the snowflake tree start at the right angle edge of your triangle and roll the paper as tight as possible from the right angle edge across to the point on the lower edge of the triangle (see photo). The tighter you roll your trunk, the easier it will be to add the snowflakes. When you have rolled across to the point of the triangle, keeping the bottom edge square, twist the top of the cone you have made to tighten your roll. With the roll tightened, apply...MORE some pva glue or a glue stick to the underside of the last couple of inches of the roll and glue the final point around the paper roll to hold it together. If you want stiffer trees, you can apply glue along the upper and lower edges of your roll as you create it. I would try one roll to see how tight you can get it before you try gluing the trunk along both edges of the triangle. If you apply glue you won't be able to tighten up the trunk merely by twisting the roll at the top.

    The next step shows how to fold six pointed snowflake blanks for your miniature winter tree.

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  • 04 of 10

    Fold a Basic Six Pointed Snowflake for the Miniature Winter Snowflake Tree

    Basic folds to make a six or twelve pointed cut paper snowflake.
    A square is made from paper, folded across to make a triangle, then folded at 30 and 60 degrees to divide the square into six even sections for a cut paper snowflake. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To fold a basic six or twelve pointed base for paper snowflakes or stars, you need to start with a square of paper. You can either cut measured squares for your snowflake tree or fold squares as you go.

    Cutting Measured Squares for a Snowflake Tree

    To measure the size of the snowflakes you need for your tree, first measure how far up the trunk you want your branches to begin. Mark this point and decide how wide you want your branches to be. Measure from your mark up to the top of your trunk ,...MORE marking the trunk roughly every 1/2 or 1 inch (use either half inch marks or one inch marks, depending on how full you want your tree.) The top snowflake will usually need to be 2 - 3 inches in diameter (5 -7.5 cm). I made my snowflake trees with squares which are roughly one inch longer on each side than the previous square for each snowflake. For my tree I used six to eight snowflakes, cut from two sheets of letter sized printer paper. The measurements of my squares were roughly one six inch square, one 5 1/2 inch square, one 5 inch square, one 4 1/2 inch square, one 4 inch square, one 3 1/2 inch square, one 3 inch square and one 2 1/2 inch square.

    With your measurements, determine how many snowflakes you need to get from your base snowflake to the top of your tree. Use the width of the base snowflake to determine how much smaller each snowflake should be in your series to evenly scale to the top 2-3 inch snowflake. This will give you measurements for a series of squares to use as the snowflake bases.

    Folding Paper Squares

    To fold paper squares, turn a piece of paper up on one corner so the sides are at 90 degrees to the rest of the paper (see photo). Crease the fold across the middle. Trim the square to shape. Check that the paper is square by folding the opposite corners together, trim any excess after the second fold.

    Folding The Points for Your Snowflake

    Folding the points for your six or twelve sided snowflak is the trickiest part of this exercise. You can use standard four folds if you wish, but your tree won't appear as rounded as it will with a six or twelve point star. To fold the six points, leave your square of paper in a triangle and make sure you have a slight crease to mark the midline of the triangle under the point. Fold one of the corners up an across the point (one folds at 30 degrees on a protractor) then fold up the other corner so the free side of that corner matches the line of the previous corner fold. If you are folding these without measuring, you may have to fudge the sides back and forth a bit before you can match up all the edges as shown. Once you have the edges matching properly, crease the folds, a bone folderwill help you make great creases but isn't a necessity. These two corners folded across the center point will give you a six point star or snowflake. See the next step for how to trim the folds to make the star even.

    The next step shows how to trim the edges of your folds to make an evenly rounded snowflake blank, ready for cutting out a pattern.

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  • 05 of 10

    Finish the Folds for a Twelve Pointed Paper Snowflake

    Final folds for a twelve point cut paper snowflake.
    With the basic folds complete, a six pointed snowflake base is folded in half, then trimmed, ready to cut into twelve point snowflakes. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    When you get to this stage of the folding process your folds should be set to the six point star or snowflake fold you can see on the left of the photo on this page. To make a twelve point star or snowflake, you just have to fold this one in half as shown in the middle of the photo. Finally, trim the top edges so all the edges are even, this will make sure your snowflake or star is roughly circular after you cut it to shape.

    When you have your folds neatly creased move on to the next step to see...MORE a suggested cutting pattern for a branched snowflake.

    The next step shows how to accordion pleat your snowflake blank so the cuts remain even throughout the snowflake.

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  • 06 of 10

    Accordion Fold The Snowflake Before Cutting

    Refolding a twelve point fold into accordian pleats for cutting a twelve point snowflake.
    Once trimmed, the folded paper for a twelve point snowflake is reset into accordian folds. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    For complex cut paper snowflakes or stars, it pays to reset your folds into an accordion pleat once you have folded the main crease lines. This helps keep all the sides of the snowflake as even as possible, as they don't have to wrap over each other.

    To fold the accordion pleats, unfold your first set of folds, and use the crease lines you made to bend the folds so they alternate back and forth to make accordion pleats. Now you should be able to cut your star or snowflake so the arm sections...MORE are very even.

    The next step shows how to cut a simple branched pattern snowflake for a miniature winter tree.

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  • 07 of 10

    Cut a Simple Branched Pattern for a Six or Twelve Point Paper Snowflake

    Cuts for a twelve branched snowflake for a miniature Christmas village tree.
    To make a twelve branched snowflake for a decorative paper tree, two notched "V"s are cut into the outer edge , then lines are cut for branches, and the point is cut off to make a hole for the miniature tree trunk. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To make your snowflakes have sides that look like branches for a simple miniature snowflake tree, you can cut your pattern similar to the one shown in the photo on this page. Experiment, you may find other patterns you like for your particular style of trees, any snowflake will work for making the trees, and they don't need to all be the same.

    Start the Cuts With V's

    To begin cutting branched stars or snowflakes cut two v's at the wide end of your folded paper as shown above. The...MORE distance you leave from the edge of the V to the fold of your snowflake edge, will be half the width of each branch.

    Once you have the two V's cut on the outer edge of the snowflake, work down each side, cutting free another branchlet angled to match the side of the V, I kept my branchlets even with the other side, but you can make them alternate if you wish.

    Cutting the Center Hole For the Snowflake Tree Trunk

    To cut the hole for the tree trunk to pass through, clip a very small piece off the narrow pointed end of your folded paper. Don't make this a very large cut. If you do get too large a hole you can patch it closed wih a scrap of paper set under the hole and then trim a new one.

    Open your snowflakes / stars carefully. You can press them flat with a dry iron on a low setting if you wish.

    The next step shows how to make a graded series of snowflakes to fit onto a trunk for a miniature snowflake tree.

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  • 08 of 10

    Prepare a Graded Series of Snowflakes To Assemble a Snowflake Tree

    Graded sizes of paper snowflakes cut from squares of paper, are ready to make into a snowflake tree.
    A range of paper snowflakes each cut from a square of paper 1/2 inch smaller than the last, plus paper trunks which will be used as the basis for a snowflake tree. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    To make a miniature snowflake tree cut as many snowflakes as you will need to create the branched sections for your chosen size of tree. Lay them out according to the size, you will need to begin with the largest snowflake. If you wish, you can curl the ends of the branches slightly against a metal ruler or the side of a pair of scissors, taking care not to tear your branches. The snowflake trees also look fine with plain, uncurled branches so it is your choice.

    The next step in this tutorial...MORE shows you how to assemble the snowflakes on the trunk of a miniature winter tree.

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  • 09 of 10

    Assemble the Cut Snowflakes On the Snowflake Tree Trunk

    Assembling a miniature winter tree for a village scene from cut paper snowflakes.
    Paper snowflakes with cut out centers are gently twisted down the conical paper trunk, with each snowflake set roughly 1/2 inch above the previous snowflake until the top of the tree is reached. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    The earlier steps in this tutorial show how to make the paper trunks to size, and fold and cut branched patterns for a miniature snowflake tree.

    To assemble the snowflake tree, take the largest snowflake and slide it gently down the trunk from the top of the tree, turning it gently down the trunk as you go towards the mark you made when measuring the number of snowflakes you would need in step 4. By turning it gently as you slide it down the trunk, you enlarge the center hole if necessary without...MORE as much risk of a tear. The snowflakes should hold in position with a friction fit. If you wish, you can apply a tiny amount of pva glue or gluestick glue on the trunk at the base of each snowflake to hold the snowflake in place.

    With the first snowflake in place at the base of your tree, add the next largest snowflake so it fits somewhere between 1/2 inch and 1 inch (1 to 2 cm) above the first. Keep adding the snowflakes in order until you reach the top flake. For the top snowflake you can set it down on the trunk like the other snowflakes (see photo) or you can choose to glue it over the top of the trunk, disguising the top twisted end of the trunk. Choose whichever method suits you.

    The final step in this tutorial shows you how to stabilize the base of the miniature winter snowflake trees in order to place them in displays.

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  • 10 of 10

    Stabilize the Base of the Miniature Snowflake Trees for Displays

    Miniature snowflake trees held to a base for a miniature Christmas Village.
    Miniature paper snowflake trees held securely to a base using modelling clay. Photo © 2011 Lesley Shepherd

    See the earlier pages in this tutorial for how to create the snowflakes and the trunk for these miniature snowflake trees.

    To stabilize the base of a miniature snowflake tree for a village scene, you can glue it permanently to a base, then add snow over the base, or you can hold the trees square by setting them into a blob of modelling clay. Use clay which will be a natural color for your display (green, brown or the grey of rocks, or white of snow. Trees with low branches that sweep the ground...MORE may not need to be stabilized as the lowest snowflake branches may hold the tree upright.

    Other forms of snowflakes that can be stacked instead of set on a trunk for miniature trees include:

    Have fun!